A statue with mask and gloves can be seen in the background as Eamon McKinley, left, and Nick Rogers, both of Santa Fe, take a break Monday from the Sunset Swirl on Second Street. The Santa Fe City Council debated late into the night Wednesday on a proposal to make face masks mandatory in public.

A gun, baton and pepper spray won’t be the only things Santa Fe police officers will be packing from now on.

Face coverings also will be part of their toolkit after Mayor Alan Webber and the City Council late Wednesday approved a proposal requiring anyone over the age of 15 to wear a face covering in most public settings or while doing business. But there are exceptions, such as when it causes or aggravates a health condition.

“The passage of this ordinance emphasizes that locally we understand the importance of face coverings as one of the very few tools we have in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” City Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth, who sponsored the legislation, said after the vote.

“We are balancing the need to reopen our economy, heavily reliant on tourism, with the responsibility to protect public health while also looking out for the workers in our community,” she said.

The new law allows police to issue violators a written warning on the first offense and a $50 fine on the second and any subsequent offense.

The measure passed 7-2, with City Councilors Michael Garcia and JoAnne Vigil Coppler opposed.

“I think this has a lot of loopholes in it,” Vigil Coppler said. “I think it’s unenforceable, frankly.”

Vigil Coppler, who doesn’t serve on any of the council committees that had vetted and endorsed the proposal before it reached the full governing body, raised myriad questions, including whether the Santa Fe Police Department had the resources to enforce it.

“I did not ask them if they thought they could enforce it,” Romero-Wirth responded.

In an email Thursday, Chief Andrew Padilla said officers will enforce the new ordinance while educating violators.

“If we encounter someone or if we are dispatched to a report of someone without a face covering, a written warning will be issued and a face covering will also be given out,” he wrote.

Padilla initially wrote that violators would be given a verbal warning on a first offense but later corrected himself.

“For a second offense, the officer will be required to issue a citation summoning the violator to appear in court, or provide the option to pay the $50 penalty assessment,” the police department wrote in an “FAQ” about the new ordinance.

Under the new law, face coverings must be worn inside or while waiting to enter a public building; on public or private transportation; and while interacting with other people in outdoor spaces, such as during a curbside pickup at a restaurant.

It also requires face coverings when people are engaging in business activities in private spaces, such as during house showings.

Vigil Coppler, a real estate agent, questioned who was going to enforce violations at open houses.

“I’m not going to call the police. ‘Hey, my buyer just showed up without a mask.’ Are you kidding?” she said. “I want to sell that house. I’m not calling the cops because someone walks in without a mask.”

Face coverings would not be required in personal vehicles, during outside physical activity or while drinking or eating, among other situations.

The proposal initially established a $50 penalty for each violation, but it was amended to make the first violation a written warning. Councilors also introduced an amendment that would strike language making the violation a petty misdemeanor.

Before the council started to debate the proposal, it held a virtual public hearing in which 10 people spoke in opposition, saying it was not based on science and that it also infringed on people’s constitutional rights, among other concerns.

A couple of speakers said they would pursue legal action against the city if the ordinance were approved, which was one of Garcia’s concerns.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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(51) comments

Joan Conrow

Interesting to see how many people have such misinformed ideas about science, which clearly supports mask wearing, and the Constitution, which says nothing on the subject. Mostly sad to see the selfishness of so many who refuse to engage in a small act to help others. And very disappointed that Vigil Coppler lacks the creativity to simply have masks on hand for the unmasked house hunters.

Tom Hyland

Four states never locked down and those are North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Arkansas. The numbers are in. It made no difference at all compared to the locked down states regarding numbers of infected, recovered or deaths. ALL states reached the same average. California and New York were the exception because governors Newsom and Cuomo ordered covid-19 victims into the compressed environments of nursing homes resulting in an abnormally high death rate. Those governors should be charged as accessories to murder. The results make very clear... lockdown, businesses shuttered and wearing masks did not change anything. This flu has rated below average to the flu of 2017/2018. WARNING!! This is a Tucker Carlson video, 10 minutes in length, and he works at FOX News. You have been warned. I know I will be heckled and insulted and called a Trump worshiping conspiracy theorist. I'll say now in my defense I didn't vote for Trump, nor Hillary. Yeah... I know the drill and so do you. Bring it on. Watch the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWsyNB95ljY&frags=pl%2Cwn

Non Essential

Que viva al estado de niñera

DG Citizen

[huh] So not sure I'm getting this, its about time for us to start taking the masks "off" right? Also, this applies to government employees only right? Why do citizen need to start wearing masks?

Di Martin

Why worry about being masked or unmasked! The idiots in this country want Law Enforcement disbanded, right! So eventually these ordinances & fines won't be carried out anyway! (Being sarcastic!)

Lupe Molina

Councillor Vigil Coppler, if selling a house is more important than the health of your constituents, then we'll just vote for somebody else next time. Luckily, elections are enforceable.

Connie Lopez

Of course a home sale is more important. And that's with any real estate agent. That's their business. Frankly, a realtor will take a client into your home who's on a ventilator just to secure a sale.

Jan Johnson

I've made lots of masks but this doctor calls it "Looney Tunes " - he declares they don't work (see link)! But even more crazy is the City plans to fine people via an over-burdened police force. Ridiculous!


Phoebe Stanton

It is amazing this can be a debate. There is zero chance that wearing a mask can cause harm to the wearer without soecific health conditions, there is 100% chance that wearing one by an asymoptomatic carrier (which everyone off the space station can possibly be) will reduce the risk to others. The idea that businesses are hurt by responsible practices is ridiculous, as compared to both the number who will not venture near those without safety and the number who will be sick and die without safety. Argument that the initial need for healthcare workers to have available masks (before they were readily available) is proof we never needed them is equally pointless. The idea of freedom being an issue is the equivalent of saying not just open carry but open carry and firing of weapons is fine because we probably don't have bullets in our gus.

Vickie Ortega

To Sojourner of Truth - I think we'd all like to know what business you're talking about - businesses who are not enforcing their employees to wear masks and follow safety protocol need to be avoided (especially if they're dealing with food). Regarding this whole city decision - I'm surprised/confused that the mayor and city council felt the need/authority to go around the Governor's mandates regarding masks.

Paul Groh

Joanne Vigil Coppler....I guess you’d be the last realtor I would ask to list my house, and I wouldn’t want you and your unmasked clients in my home, either. Masks are to protect others, not the wearer, and letting unmasked clients into private homes, clients who may be asymptomatic carriers, is careless and thoughtless.

Julie Berman

Paul and Lupe - if you had watched the Council meeting you would have understood what Councilor Vigil Coppler was objecting to. She wears a mask all the time when in public and is very careful in her day to day activities. She was objecting to if the City really needed an Ordinance when the Governor has already directed the wearing of masks. The Councilor felt that it was not going to be enforceable and that the SFPD had not been asked if they were on board with citing violators. Since there were no tracking system in place, she was objecting to 'how' this ordinance was going to be carried out. And she questioned why people under the age of 15 did not have to wear masks and that the more vulnerable had the discretion to not wear masks. So... your comments did not reflect the real picture.

Destiny Encinias


Bill Roth

What a lot of these comments show me is that there are a large number of folks out there that put their own personal desires above the greater good. Living is a complex society and enjoying the benefits of that, require at times a personal sacrifice for that greater good. Its sad to see how short sighted so many folks are- resisting wearing a mask is childish and silly. If we are to ever exit this dark period of our history- its going rio require that attitude of there is something larger than my own personal needs in the short term, if we are to see any progress going forward. Look around, the countries that did exit out of dealing with this pandemic, are countries that had the culture amongst their people to see that greater good, make some sacrifices, and now they get to enjoy that freedom that we all desire, to live mask free, as it were. Take a look at New Zealand for a country with a similar population mix, similar standards of living, that did just that-C19 has ben eradicated. Meanwhile our rate is climbing again...

David Martinez

How about warning citations for people who wear a mask, but don't cover their nose.

Erin Currier

It feels like the ongoing infantalization of the People (whereby we citizens are treated like schoolchildren who are somehow unable to think for ourselves). It also feels like a further shakedown of an already massively unemploed and stretched populice. And, on top of it all, police departments around the country are being rightfully scaled down & streamlined...and now they are suddenly being asked to troll the entire public sphere monitering who is wearing a mask & when & why?

Furthermore, the exception to the mask wearing rule is "if someone is exercising & doing physical activity or eating or drinking... Well heck-- thats pretty much what I'm doing when I am out walking around everywhere: Walking-- Exercising. I know when to wear a mask and when not to, and I find it insulting that anyone would deem otherwise.

On another note: I hate that the Media on both sides have somehow turned this into a Facist-Elitist-Liberal-Gung-Ho-Mask-Wearer vs. Fascist-Racist-Republican-Non-Mask-Wearer situation... Humans are so much more multifaceted and complex...We need to rise above this lame dichotomy that does not in fact exist. (& BTW: I am neither)

Leo Catelli

I thought it was kind of funny a “naturopath” New Age seeming person was interviewed. Most of the anti mask comments I hear are from more right wing people, but funny to see the pseudo hippie population finding an issue with it.

Chris Mechels

So, for 2 months we were told NOT to wear masks, now we are told we MUST wear masks, or be fined $50. Romero-Wirth should stop bringing stupid Webber ideas to the Council. This is just such a stupid idea. Power for the sake of power. Pushing us around.

BTW, I asked the Governor's office for their proffered free mask, and it was an absolute POS, wrong materials, stiff, leaked around all edges. Wearing this POS would simply make me feel safer, making me more exposed. I'll keep wearing my old N-95 which actually DOES make me safer.

Like the Governor, the Mayor, and the Council, are doing "political science", making claims unsupported by science, and throwing their weight around. Disgusting...

Dan Three

Hey David Ford you are such a typical elitist liberal, like a racist you stereotype people who disagree with your point of view. We have heard it all before science deniers, Fox News fans and conspiracy theorists and just plain dumb people because you feel that you are so much smarter than the unwashed masses, how typical. When the science showed that people in nursing homes were vulnerable we all witnessed how the Democrat Governors of NM, NJ, NY, PA, and WA handled that bit of scientific advice. This is how left always avoids the debate. Mr. Ford you are so smart and so far above us we are not worthy. Of course our “Herds should be thinned” this sounds just like things Germans heard in the 1930’s, how nice!

Khal Spencer

Mask wearing is a very good idea as we open up the economy, but having Council hit us with a club instead of encouragement is depressing, as I told Council and the Mayor in an email. But I guess they went ahead with this. I'm thankful they appeared to have amended it to get rid of that petty misdemeanor provision. We don't need to criminalize this.

My bigger concern is the continued assertion of the Governor's immense power under the Riot Act. I wish someone would take this to Federal court. My guess is that the original intent of the Legislature was not to let anyone rule by decree indefinitely. If we wanted something along the lines of the 1933 Enabling Act, we should have voted to eliminate the legislature entirely. I would not give this kind of power to one person indefinitely irregardless of the person. Anyone in Fanta Se want to see a conservative Republican wield this much authority as long as he or she wishes?

By the way, is the Reichstag still burning?

David Cartwright

Why must this sordid group of wannabe politicians criminalize everything? Isn't it enough to recommend the masks and let the merchants decide what they want to do? I do like some of the sarcastic comments about this, but I come back to reality. Vote them out and get rid of this worthless bunch. So, when I see people pose "vote," I'll now know what they mean.

Beth Damianos

First of all, why not educate the community and lawmakers should set the example of practicing it. This Governor, Mayor and Lawmakers needs to find a suitable and airtight plan before bring this mask enforcement fines out to the people of Santa Fe.

They need to look at apartment buildings owners and hit fines to the owners who have incapable community managers who do not follow the laws or policy. I do not see any requirements in the Governors plan about policy on living and having them checked on.

Personally it's a way for the Mayor to find money for the budget! It's all ready a disgrace when people call the SANTA FE POLICE DEPARTMENT to report something and always being told, "WE ARE SHORTHANDED OR ON ANOTHER CALL."

Mayor, you are out of touch of this community and have not impressed me in your policies. THINK AND GIVE US SANTA FE RESIDENTS ON WHEN THE NEXT WAVE OF THIS FAKE VIRUS IS COMING AGAIN!



Another group of incompetent lawmakers rushing to judgement without thinking. When the Governor will not be enforcing it and know it will be? Come on, get into intelligent decision making; before you drive out people of this town!

Lupe Molina

He's been doing daily briefings on YouTube Live since the middle of March. Not his fault that the New Mexican doesn't carry it, or enforce it's own rules in the comments for that matter...

david J.

Wait, I thought the entire country wanted to defund the police...would that mean no one could issue the mask citations? So confusing.

Khal Spencer

This is a great money making opportunity. Next time there is a big liberal rally in Santa Fe and folks are not wearing masks, the police can make one loudspeaker announcement and for those who do not mask up, they can all be fined fifty bucks.

Judith Senda

You want to stop this nonsense? Call the police to report violators when you see them. Every. Single. Time. Inundate them with their own stupid “law.” If they won’t enforce it even-handedly across the population, it is an arbitrary and capricious law.

Kathy Fish

Comparing this with abortion rights is an insult to women everywhere. Instead of posting hateful and inflammatory comments, let's stick to the issue at hand. To hear a man use the phrase "my body, my choice" in this context undermines decades of activism, not to mention minimizes the real costs of banning legal abortion in this country. If you've got a problem wearing a mask, the best thing you can do is stay home - but chances are, you're making someone else do the work of grocery shopping, banking, working, and providing for you.

Brad Doubles

Actually, I have been working every day since this started. AND shopping to provide for my traditional, two parent family. If you are triggered by a man using that phrase, I would guess you are of the same liberal mindset that has ruined this state over the last 75 years. But go ahead, get triggered as Americans who believe in their right to choose LAUGH AT YOUR NONSENSE!

Brad Doubles

Wrong again Kathy. I have been working every day since this started AND doing the shopping to provide for my traditional, two parent household.

Youre just triggered if you think many Americans belueve in my body my choice concerning masks.

The experts say that mask wearing is to protect those around you, correct? And the mask wont protect the wearer....Well, if I wear one and it wont protect me, you wear one and it wont protect you.....WHERE IS THE LOGIC THERE....

My work has had 20 ppl working, every day since the beginning, no masks, NO PROBLEMS!

Orlie Romero

Kathy; again if your sick or scared you stay home not the other way around.

Comment deleted.
David Ford

As I have said before, I encourage all science deniers, conspiracy theorists, uninformed Fox news viewers and retrumplicans to congregate at will amongst yourselves to accelerate the self-thinning of your own herds all while screaming falsely that your rights are being denied. What will be your rallying cry be when the pandemic comes back with a vengeance because you and your ilk of "freedom lovin' 'mericans" won't wear a mask......

Di Martin

The article states not wearing a mask is a law? I don't remember the Legislature passing that law, especially since the COVID-19 wasn't an issue at the time. Isn't it an ordinance the City Council passed? Not law?

Lucas Lujan

Unconstitutional at this point.

Stefanie Beninato

An ordinance is a law So is a state statute. The governor issued an emergency public health order. The NM Supreme Court has already upheld her right under certain constitutional powers to do so.

William Bruno


Orlie Romero

Shut up. Quit being so mad, just take the ticket and sue the city. Easiest way to make $$$, fairs tees win in court!

Orlie Romero

Stephanie, a city ordinance is not a state law, hence star vs city, omg. This is the reason Santa Fe will be sued, not only that but anyone can say they have asthma which negates the ordinance or wrap it around wrist, guess what? That’s wearing it.

Laurie Buffer

"The new law allows police to issue violators a written warning on the first offense and a $50 fine on the second and any subsequent offense." Again, how can this be a law if it hasn't been passed by the legislature? I'm fairly certain the City Council does NOT have this much power!

Comment deleted.
Judith Senda

Nice try, Brad, but you forgot the unspoken second half of the liberals’ cry. It’s really “my body, my choice, your body, my choice.”

Those of us who don’t toe the liberal line are held to a different set of standards and aren’t entitled to the same rights.

When this is all over, we’ll know who the fools and scoundrels really were.

Stefanie Beninato

This ordinance will be selectively enforced and is not as rigorous as the state health order. Romero Wirth is making mask wearing required for those 15 and above. The state directive calls for 3 and above. You can be sure that 15 yo on the plaza will not be wearing masks. Are the police really going to enforce? How do you keep track of tourists in particular since Romero Wirth made a big deal of imposing our community concerns on those who have less rigorous requirements. How likely do you think that is? Do you think a code enforcement person will ask a gun carrying member of the public to put a mask on? Laws that cannot or will not be enforced fairly only lead to disrespect for all laws.

PS I did not object based on the false accusation that COVID19 is a hoax or that it infringed on my rights--I am concerned about PROPER mask use inside--not outside unless you are having outdoor music or protests--large crowd gatherings. I know COVID19 is real--one of my daughters is an epidemiologist for CDC. She is working in Gallup right now--I can assure you it is a lot worse than the flu.

William Bruno


Dan Three

If someone is unjustly fined for not wearing a mask by the police and we the people of Santa Fe decide we must protest will the rules be relaxed just for us? No Justice no Masks

Sojourner of Truth

I walked into a Santa Fe business establishment yesterday (with my facemask on) and all 8 workers inside were not wearing facemasks. I immediately walked out. This is how I will enforce this public health requirement. No mask, no money. Really simple.

Stefanie Beninato

I think if we start calling these businesses out than perhaps the owner and employees will get why it is important to wear masks--even when they are the only ones there and especially in food service areas. Would you care to share what business you entered?

David Ford

I too vote with my wallet. If I see a business (yes including local businesses) decide that they do not want to participate in the simple act of protecting themselves and their fellow citizens then I do not shop there - period....

Orlie Romero

I’m there, name the business so I can buy American. Stay free and keep making rules no one is following, haven’t wore a mask once in 4 months, it’s nice being normal!

Richard Reinders

Mayor Alan Webber and the City Council should worry about driving business to the businesses so they can pay GRT not how you can fine people that come to Santa Fe without a mask , how unfriendly can we get. Can you say ghost town.

Orlie Romero

This is going to make for an easy Trump win, he’s laughing his a$$ off right now watching libs throw their entire careers out the window. Nobody’s listening anymore other than Stephanie!

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